Decisions for Life

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Charlotte Wilbanks, Texas

The decisions we have to make in life so often seem difficult to me. When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’ s disease I had the job of my life. I never dreamed I would be so fortunate in the job market as this. Management at the company I was working for were understanding and kind. They gave me every opportunity to do more, to learn more, to have a bigger role at the company. I could not have had a better situation except that everyday was a real challenge for me because my husband was also very ill. He was in his last year of terminal cancer.

In my 5th year at the company, my husband began to have more problems and his disease progressed. He was the love of my life. A good soul and no kinder man can be found. I felt so torn between work, home and mom. I had no idea which way to turn. I was so desperate for answers to where SHOULD I be? It seemed no one was being treated fairly by me, least of all, me.

In November, when I lost my husband, I was numb but still going forward. I couldn't imagine how I was going to do this with so much responsibility, grief and still the distance to drive to help mom. I made the decision to move her in with me and we bought a house.

Soon after I began work on the house mom began to have seizures. Each time they left her a little more incapacitated and it was taking a long time between seizures for her to improve. I couldn't afford to hire anyone to care for her and her income was $25 a month too high for her to qualify for help so I had no choice but to leave my great job and stay home to care for her. If I had it to do again I would always choose her care over my career but make no mistake it is no small decision.

After sometime our finances really began to be an issue. It wasn't long before going back to work seemed to be a viable option because mom was doing really well. I was still terrified to leave her at home although I had the time to develop many systems to help her know when to take her medications and to learn to make preprepared meals for her, devised ways to make the house safer for her, began to recruit neighbors to check in on her but I was still scared. I just don't know what people are supposed to do if they don't have a large family or lots of friends to help out. We were absolutely stuck with no where to turn.

If only U.S. families could still survive on one income then children could have the supervision of their own family while growing up and people like my mom and my late husband could get the care they needed. It seems like such a small thing to ask.

The decisions were hard but I would never want to do it any other way. It was difficult to impossible at times but the choice to me was clear and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to help her any way I could.

I hope the world will change but for now ... I did what I could.